According to a news release, students and staff at Ardenne High School in St Andrew will soon benefit from the establishment of a health and wellness centre. The Ardenne High School Health and Wellness Centre, which is slated for completion within a year, is projected to cost approximately $60 million. The undertaking is an initiative of the Ardenne Alumni Foundation and aims to support the physical, mental health and overall well-being of the students and staff. The proposed two-storey building will include a nurse’s station, students’ and staff sickbays and associated washrooms, general male and female washrooms for both teachers and students, students lounge, counselling rooms, offices for guidance counsellors, multipurpose room, and a multipurpose roof terrace that is surrounded by green spaces and gardens.
In a speech from Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, and read by education officer in the Ministry, Hazel Masters Williams, at the ground-breaking ceremony on 8 February. She said it is hoped that the centre will provide an oasis of care for staff and students alike. Williams commended the Ardenne Alumni association, the Board of Management, and the school administration for committing to the project. “The holistic approach to student and staff well-being cannot be taken for granted. We are human beings who, from time to time, need intervention to deal with physical and mental health issues. In addition, schools have an essential role to play in supporting students to make healthy lifestyle choices and understanding the effects of their choices on their health and well-being…. Physical activity is associated with improved learning and the ability to concentrate. Strong, supportive relationships provide students with the emotional resources to step out of their intellectual ‘comfort zone’ and explore new ideas and ways of thinking, which is fundamental to educational achievement,” the Minister said.
Chairman, Alumni Foundation, Flo Darby, informed that $15 million has, so far, been secured for the project and encouraged others to partner with the Foundation. She noted that the institution has outgrown the current space provided. “Given the increased mental health challenges faced by our Jamaican students, particularly with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become an urgent need for our school family to provide the appropriate facilities for the nursing and mental healthcare of our students and staff,” Ms. Darby said. “In addition to the guidance counsellors, we plan to provide, in this building, facilities for a psychologist, social workers and a part-time psychiatrist,” she said, noting that the counselling rooms will allow the alumni to mentor students and teachers in an environment that is conducive to fostering well-being.
Ardenne High principal, Nadine Molloy, said the establishment of the centre is another step in the right direction for the institution, which will redound to the benefit of students and staff. She thanked all the players who have been critical to the project. The centre is being built on premises owned by the school, with permission from the Society of the Church of God in Jamaica.